During the normal end-of-the-season scramble to sign undrafted college free agents one player stood out above the rest last season.

Defenseman Andrej Sustr who stands 6-foot-8 had many NHL suitors when he opted to leave the University of Nebraska-Omaha after three years. Ultimately he chose to sign with the Lightning citing how Tampa Bay has developed some of its young players during the past few seasons.

After just six months with the organization the 22-year-old is competing for a roster spot in the NHL. Friday in St. Louis marked his second consecutive night of preseason action and the Plzen Czech Republic native is making a solid case after a strong performance during a playoff run with Syracuse in the American Hockey League last season.

“You can just see he has grown’’ Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “Poise poise under pressure it looks like the game has slowed down for him a little bit so he’s making some savvy plays out there. And he has confidence and you need to play in games to get that confidence. You can sit there and do all the talking you want but until you are put in the fire you don’t really know how hot it is. I think Sustr has grown and that’s a good sign with the limited number of games he has played.’’

Sustr jumped right into the fire signing with the Lightning on March 21 and appearing in two games with Tampa Bay on March 29 and April 2 before heading to Syracuse for the final eight games of the regular season and into the playoffs.

The learning curve while making the jump from college to the professional ranks can be difficult but Sustr showed little sign of struggling. And by the time the Crunch advanced to the Calder Cup final Sustr became a valuable member of the blue line and earned the trust of Syracuse coach Rob Zettler to play in key situations.